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    Alaska 2024 Trip Report | YAG

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    Alaska 2024 Trip Report | YAG

    In late April 2024, 7 members of the Young Alpinist Group travelled to the Kahiltna Glacier in the Central Alaskan Range. It wasn't an easy expedition with very changeable weather conditions but the group made the most of it. Read on for their full trip report.

    The group converged in Anchorage on the 26th April. Making final preparations before 3 weeks of glacial life we met up with Tom and Gašper Pintar who had just flown out of the range for some conditions beta and top tips. After some rather hurried repacking and cramming everyone, plus kit, into a minivan we were off to Talkeetna Air Taxi to fly out later that day on the 28th.

    Anticipation and psyche as we flew in on 60+ year-old De Havilland Otters was at an all time high. Flying through the Alaska range looking at the impressive faces and mountains from the window of the plane was incredible. Upon arrival at Kahiltna Basecamp, home for the coming weeks, we spent that and the following day setting up our camp, whilst admiring some of the finest mountain scenery any of us had seen.

    On the 30th April we all went out for a ski tour to explore the area and get a feel for the conditions. Anna and Sinead then had a walk most of the way up the east ridge of Mount Francis but were turned around by poor visibility. The following day Iain, Michael and Will headed off up the east ridge too in claggy weather. Adam and Naoise, not to be left out of the fun, left a bit later and we crossed paths near the summit. With team mountaineering (Iain, Will and Micheal) walking back down to skis left on the glacier and team ski (Adam and Naoise) skiing from the summit back to camp!

    A band of low pressure then began to dominate the forecast (as it would for the majority of the rest of our stay).

    On May 3rd Sinead and Anna climbed the south face of the Control Tower mostly following their noses up snow and mixed ground with a crux pitch of around m6. Climbing most of their route in snowy and poor weather they walked back to camp for their skis to be collected the following day.

    Throughout this first week everyone did plenty of skiing including some couloirs on Mt.Francis we had spotted earlier. Naoise and Adam headed out and skied a big and steep couloir on the side of “peak 12,200”. They found great snow, resulting in big smiles but tired legs! An impressive and imposing line watched by the others from basecamp.

    Utilising a short weather window around the 6th May Micheal, Will and Iain set off early morning after a day of sun and stable conditions to climb the campsite classic of “Bacon and Eggs”. With perfect one swing ice and bomber screws they climbed to the snow bay a couple pitches from the top before spindrift and snow set in for an abseil retreat that morning.

    On the morning of the 7th May Sinead and Anna as well as Naoise and Adam (along with their skis) headed for the SW ridge of Mt.Francis. The strong Arctic sun softened the snow making for harder than expected progress. The boys with their ski boots and skis on their rucksacks, leading the way, found their setup a hindrance on the mixed terrain. Reaching the snow slopes, a third up the route, around sunset they set off a number of slides and decided to all retreat down a gully to the left side. Initially Adam and Naoise had tried to ski this gully but both gave up after close calls with skis ejecting down climbing alongside Anna and Sinead to get back to camp around 0330. Having set off at 9pm Iain, Will and Micheal reached the third tower before receiving an in-reach message from the others about retreat and they too descended although back down the ridge.

    May 10th After one of our coldest nights in our longest period of poor weather. Michael, Adam and Naoise climbed “Its Included” M7 on the Control Tower. Naoise took a fall on the second pitch which was filmed and contains the usual lyrical Irish accompaniment one expects in these situations. They abseiled off at the top of the route as the weather really deteriorated that night even more so than before.

    The next stable weather came around the 14th of May when Sinead and Anna moved camp to underneath the Mini Moonflower and set off up “Bacon and Eggs” climbing to the top of the ice and descending a pitch from the top the following morning.

    The same day Adam and Naoise made an attempt at the “Bibler-Klewin'' on the Moonflower Buttress of Mount Hunter. They made it up the Mugs start initially simuling then pitching higher up, finding good neve and easy but bold climbing. Upon reaching “The Shaft” the evening sun hit the face making the snow and ice unstable. This coincided with Canadians Jacob and Zac abseiling down and reporting an impassable snow-mushroom high on the route. As a team of 4 they descended with Jacob having a close call with a falling rock and then Naoise narrowly avoiding getting crushed by a snow-mushroom which collapsed above him! All made it back safe and happy to have been able to attempt the “Moonflower”.

    At 1am on the 15th Will, Iain and Micheal set off to attempt Ian Parnell and Kenton Cool's route “Kiss me where the sun don’t shine” on the Mini Moonflower. Finding poor snow and ice conditions they retreated on the initial pitches.

    With another storm in the forecast Iain, Adam and Naoise flew out that day to ensure they got their flights the following week. Whilst Iain, Adam and Naoise worked on transatlantic relations in Talkeetna and Anchorage, Anna, Micheal, Sinead and Will sat out some more poor weather hoping for at least one more good climbing day.

    Thankfully one last weather window arrived and on the 18th of May Sinead and Anna headed for the North Couloir on the Mini Moonflower and Will and Micheal headed for the Mugs start to the

    Bibler-Klewin. Anna and Sinead enjoyed good ice descending before the ridge cornice whilst Will and Micheal turned around low on the Mugs start.

    Flying off on the 21st May Anna, Sinead, Will and Micheal enjoyed their first evening off snow in Talkeetna before all flying back home.

    Despite some challenging weather and conditions in the Alaskan range we took away a memorable experience and many lessons for climbing in the big mountains. Many of us agreed the Alaskan mountains were the most inspiring and jaw dropping places we had ever been.

    Thanks to Mountain Equipment, La Sportiva, The Alpine Club, The BMC, Fatmap, Grit and Rock, Mount Everest Foundation, all the people who lent gear or gave advice and the Kahiltna basecamp crew!

    Learn more about our partnership with the Young Alpinist Group here.

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